Transmission Shifting Hard Issue? 7 Easy Solutions (2024)

One of the problems you are likely to encounter as you drive your car is difficulty in shifting from 1st to 2nd transmission system. It’s a problem that is common to most automatic cars.

The difficulties sometimes have nothing to do with the gears. In most cases, it’s usually other things that you can easily identify and get fixed.

In this article, we will share with you the top reason and solutions that would lead to difficulties in transmission change.

How Transmission Shifting Hard Issue Caused?

Transmission shifting hard can be caused by low fluid, a faulty control module, or damaged gears. Have a mechanic diagnose and fix the issue to prevent further damage.

Reasons & Solution For Hard Transmission shifting

A hard-to-shift transmission issue is generally due to the car’s transmission declining to shift the gears. You can face issues while changing the gear from 1st to 2nd or 2nd to 3rd. However, no matter what, this is very annoying, and due to this, you will have to face a highly unpleasant driving experience. So, you should not ignore such problems, or else you will deal with costly repair expenses.

The following are the major causes of difficult transmission from 1st to 2nd gear. These problems need immediate and simple fixing to bring transmission performance to be normal.

1.    Contaminated Fluid

One of the major cause of transmission lag is contaminations in the transmission fluid. When the fluid is clean, you should expect the transmission to be perfect without any delay.


If you have difficulties in transmission shifting, start by inspecting the transmission fluid. Check whether it’s clean.

Clean transmission fluid is pellucid with the original colour that depends on its original manufacturing company.

Most of the transmission fluids have a greenish, bluish, reddish, or yellowish colour.

Once you find that the fluid is contaminated change it, this is the best thing you can since you can’t clean transmission fluid.

Castrol 03520C TRANSMAX DEX is the best transmission oil you will find in the market. Buy it and replace it with the contaminated fluid in your car transmission.

2.    Low Fluid Level

Another reason why it’s difficult to shift transmission from 1st to 2nd is that you have a low fluid level in the gasket.

For a smooth and effective transmission, there should be enough fluid to ease and lubricate transmission on the gears.

So, as you inspect your transmission fluid check whether it’s in the desired levels, do this by inserting a stick in the fluid chamber and check the length covered by the oil.


There is only one solution to this problem. Just refill the transmission fluid.

Also, inspect and see if there are any damages to the fluid chamber. Check for leakages on the gasket or shaft seal. Inspect and ensure no damage could lead to fluid leakages.

And if you find any damage, the best thing you need to do is repair and ensure there are no further leakages.

3.    Clutch System For Manual CarsClutch System For Manual Cars

The role of a clutch system in a vehicle is to engage and disengage power for effective transmission. When you pus the clutch pedal, it transmits pressure to the clutch master cylinder to bring the car into neutral and prevent power transmission. This allows manual gear shifting.

However, if the class release and master cylinder are leaking or damaged, shifting gears becomes very difficult. This is because it causes a loss of fluid pressure. As a result, you don’t get enough pressure to disengage and engage in manual transmission.


If you notice this to be the problem, we recommend that you take your car to a qualified mechanic to fix the problem. A skilled mechanic will access the damage and recommend the best solution. It could be changing the clutch master cylinder or fixing any leakage.

4.    Malfunctioning Sensorstransmission shifting hard from 1st to 2nd

Cars are becoming automated. Everything is now controlled by computers that receive signals and instructs your car what it’s supposed to do.

But all these technological advancements come with their own challenges. And one of the challenges is the malfunctioning of sensors.

An automatic gear transmitter comes with sensors that help in gear transmissions.

They work by receiving and sending signals. And if the transmission mechanism fails, you will get an entire car problem.


The sensor problem is not something you can deal with at home alone. You need to get help from a professional who can fix the sensor problem and give your car the best performance.

Check the engine light that you can find on your car’s dashboard. This indicates that your car has some issues, especially with the transmission. Multiple sensors are placed in different areas of a car’s engine to alert the computer system to detect some unusual activity.

5.    Adaptive Transmission Issues

Automatic cars use sensors to monitor and adapt to your driving habits. They check your transmission fluid condition and driving patterns to set car operations to standard performance.

When you change your driving habits or transmission fluid, your car will be set in the previous habits. At this point, you will encounter difficulties shifting from 1st to 2nd transmission.


To fix this problem, you need to take your car to a skilled mechanic who will reset the transmission. Again, there is less you can do to solve this problem unless you are a professional mechanic.

6.    Cold Weather

Extremely cold temperatures are one of the major reasons you will encounter issues with transmission of your car.

When temperatures are low, the temperature of the fluid also goes low and thickens. This is a common problem if you don’t buy high-quality fluid.

When the fluid thickens, it makes it difficult to change the transmission.


Buy quality transmission fluid. Look for fluids which are resistant to temperature changes. Castrol 03520C TRANSMAX DEX is the best transmission fluid that won’t thicken in low temperatures. Click here to check it’s the latest price and buy it now for your car.

7.    Transmission Vacuum Modulator Problem

A vacuum modulator is an empty pipe that maintains a vacuum inside a transmission system. Its role is to measure the workload amount your engine faces.

This is done when gear exerts pressure over the valves of the combustion cylinder. The pressure is then transferred to the modulators to shift the gear.

So, if the modulator has a problem, it doesn’t exert enough pressure to shift the gear. It makes transmission difficult.


Change any broken or warped vacuum line. You can let a professional mechanic do this job on your behalf.

Read Also: How to Remove Ignition Lock Cylinder Without Key

When you notice difficulties in transmission shifting, don’t force it. It’s a sign of a problem in the shifting system. If you force it, you will likely cause a bigger problem.

We recommend that you inspect your car and try to identify the problem. If it’s something you are confident in solving on your own, go ahead and do it. However, if you don’t have the confidence of skills, take your car to a skilled mechanic.

Reasons For A Hard Transmission In Most Manual Cars

In manual cars, the hard shift in transmission means the drivers have to use force to change the gear from first to second. All the manual cars come with a gearbox with sleeves, gears, and gear hub. A small issue in these parts can make car owners face transmission problems. So, let’s talk about this in detail. 

1. Fatigued Clutch

The car’s clutch normally functions by transforming the produced torque to the drivetrain from the engine. The smooth-shifting for gears and smooth movement of the cars required a properly working clutch. 

If you are using your vehicle very roughly and not maintaining it properly, the clutch will get damaged, and a worn-out clutch can severely affect the gear transmission. Common symptoms of a bad or worn-out clutch are a soft clutch or burning odor. Check for these systems and, if required, replace your clutch system to prevent the transmission shifting hard issue. 

2. Control Unit Of Engine

In some cases, it has been seen that an outdated engine control unit can develop such issues. The control unit of the engine sometimes needs an update. It might be that the old version had some issues resulting in a bad transmission. So, take your car to an expert to know the state of your car’s engine control unit. 

3. Damaged Or Bad Gears

Normally, a gearbox of a manual transmission car comes with five to six gears. If they become damaged for any reason, this will also affect the transmission. Wondering about the solutions for such issues? Well, there is only one solution to this problem, and you will have to take your car to the nearest garage. You can’t even handle this issue on your own, as the placement of gears in your car has made them difficult to access. 

4. Damaged Gear Hub Sleeve

The gear hub in the car creates a smooth connection between the gears and helps during shifting from one gear to another. The gear hub sleeves ensure the smooth movement of teeth of the hub gear. It keeps them functioning in parallel with the synchronizer. However, if a sleeve is worn out, you will not experience a smooth movement. As a result, shifting the gear will be very difficult. 

5. Damaged Synchronizer Ring

The car’s synchronizer ring has multiple small teeth, and they remain connected with the hub sleeve to make gear shifting comfortable and smooth. If there is an issue in the synchronizer ring, you will notice uneven motion. This is one of the major reasons behind the hard shifting of gears. 

6. Insufficient Gear Oil

Transmission fluid is used to keep the automatic car’s gearbox lubricated. On the other hand, gear oil ensures the smooth movement of gears and the connected components. If the gear oil leaks or you have not replaced the oil for a long time, gear transmission will show issues. To eliminate the problem, change the old oil and use the best quality gear oil that can last for a long time. 

7. Gear Slipping

If the transmission box is in good condition, it will shift gear smoothly whenever you tell it to. You will not face issues while shifting the gear rapidly. However, if the system slips, it will take more seconds to coast or show a higher RPM. You should not ignore this as, in the long run, you end up with a seized transmission and may need to replace the transmission completely. An experienced car mechanic can only deal with such a problem. 

If you notice gear shifting issues, there is a high chance that your transmission has to have any of the issues mentioned above. You should be very vigilant and tackle these issues as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might have permanent damage.

How To Shift Your Car Gears Smoothly? 

It can be challenging or frustrating to learn how to use a standard transmission. On the other hand, it will be even more irritating when you learn the basics of shifting the gears correctly. However, if you wonder how to shift gears smoothly, don’t worry and follow the below-mentioned steps. 

  • First, you need to increase the engine’s speed to 3000 to 3800 RPM. 
  • You need to release the gas pedal while pressing the clutch to the floor. After that, you can swiftly move the gearshift from first to second gear.
  • Remember that the faster you shift it, the smoother it will feel.

Know When To Shift Gears

If you have a car with a manual transmission, you know the difficulty you can face while changing gears. It will not be as easy as an automatic transmission, where you only need to shift the gears just one time before you start moving. Having a manual transmission means you must consistently shift the gears while driving or performing different actions. If you are not shifting the gears properly, you may damage the transmission. We have mentioned some useful tips to enjoy a smooth gear shifting experience. 

Block Changing

Well, shifting gears doesn’t mean that you should do it in sequence. When you skip a gear, that is called block changing. There is a benefit of block changing. This can help you enjoy better mileage and preserve the clutch life.

Reduce Gears Of Acceleration

If you want to accelerate quickly while driving, you should switch to lower gear. You might be wondering why? When you do that, you can provide your car with more power. Do you want to slow down the car? Just remove your foot from the accelerator, and your car will gradually slow down. Well, you will not notice this with high gears.

Properly Changing The Gears

As mentioned above, while pressing the clutch, remove the foot from the accelerator and then gently change your car’s gear. While pressing down the accelerator, slowly take your foot from the clutch. In some cars, you will find it hard to shift the gears. One possible reason for this is a high-performance clutch as they require the users to put more effort. 

Understand The Sound Of The Engine

You will understand when you change the gear by carefully listening to the engine’s sounds. If your car’s engine produces a deeper sound, that means your car has a lower RPM range. When the sound is high and louder, the RPM is high when you shift the gears. 

High Gears Of Speed

There is a difference between speed and acceleration. Speaking about acceleration, it is the rate at which the speed changes, and speed represents how your car travels within a particular time frame. If you want to drive faster, you need to use the high gear. Forgoing faster quickly, for acceleration, you should use low gears. Remember that high gears will not help in accelerating faster. 

Things That You Should Not Do Your Car’s Automatic Transmission

You should not do some things while using an automatic transmission car to prevent hard shifting issues. Here are some common things to watch out for while driving. 

At A Signal, Don’t Put It In Neutral

While at a traffic signal, there is no need to put the gearbox in neutral mode. You can leave it in normal mode or drive mode. Some people say using neutral mode will save gas. This is not a fact. Besides, keeping your car in neutral mode for a few minutes can stress the gearbox, increasing the chances of developing transmission shifting hard in the future. 

It is a good idea to stay ideal by putting your can in drive mode as your car’s engine is already running. When you put it in neutral and change it to the drive mode, it will consume fuel. This is a basic rule for those driving an automatic transmission car. 

While In Neutral, Don’t Coast Down A Hill

Some people have seen it save fuel, but their automatic transmission car is in neutral while driving down a hill. In the case of modern automatic transmissions, when you are traveling down a hill and then riding another hill, and the transmission is in gear, the transmission will automatically cut the fuel supply to the car engine. All you need to do is just control the wheels. So, let it be in drive mode and enjoy the ride. 

Before Changing The Gear, You Should Stop The Car

While driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission, it is important to make sure that your vehicle has come to a full stop, and then you can change the gear, for instance, drive mode to reverse mode or reverse to drive mode. Why is this so important? While doing this, you will use the brakes instead of the transmission. 

Don’t Launch Your Cat

If you want the gearbox and transmission of your car to last longer, then don’t launch your car. This will put huge stress on your car. 

One of the most common practices among people while using an automatic transmission car is to heat the engine first by putting it in natural mode and then suddenly switch to the drive mode to move the car forward. You should not do that. This can be very damaging for your automatic gearbox, and you will never want to replace it frequently as it costs a lot of money. By properly using your vehicle, you can lower the chances of developing transmission shifting hard problems.

Does Your Car Refuse To Go Into Gear? 

If your car is not shifting gear even after pressing the clutch and moving the gear stick, you should check the fluid and ensure the fluid is at the required level. As mentioned above, some other possible causes can be using the wrong type of fluid, shift cable adjustment, and clutch linkage. Sometimes, the car’s computer system can also lead to such an issue. 

If you have checked the fluid, then try resetting the machine. For that, you need to gently remove the battery and leave it for around 20 to 30 minutes. After that, insert the battery and test it. This method usually works.


Can A Bad Torque Lead To The Hard Shifting Issue In The Transmission? 

As per the experts, the answer is yes. If your car torque is poor, you will face a hard transmission shifting issue. If the car has damaged or malfunctioning torque and is not functioning properly, it can cause hard shifting of the manual transmission whenever you shift the gears. 

In general, when the torque converter slip or delays a gear shift, it happens because of a damaged bearing or fin in the torque converter. Remember that, in your car, the torque converter converts the engine torque into hydraulic pressure and moves the gears of the transmission. So, if you are facing issues while shifting gears, you should check the torque converter. 

Can Hard Shifting Damage The Transmission? 

Yes, a hard shitting issue can severely damage your car’s transmission. If you think the transmission of your card is difficult to shift from first to second or third gear, then the transmission might have some broken parts or has some faults. As a result, shifting the gears will be hard, and this can also cause damage to other parts of the transmission. So, it is advisable to solve this issue as soon as possible to prevent any costly repair in the future. 

A remanufactured transmission can cost you around USD 1500 to USD 3,5000 based on the model and make of the car. On the other hand, you will also have to pay for the labor cost to install the transmission, which can go up to USD 700.  

Hard Shifting Can Arise Due To Low Oil. Is It True? 

If you ask the car manufacturers, all will say that low oil levels in the transmission can make the gears hard to shift. If the gears are hard to shift from first to second gear, you should check and ensure that the automatic transmission fluid is at the right level. On the other hand, if there are leaks in the gear oil or if you have not changed the transmission oil for a long time, it can develop issues in your car’s gear transmission. 

Is It Possible To Fix Hard Shifting With A Transmission Flush? 

Some people think that a transmission flush can be an effective solution. But this will not fix the transmission shifting hard issue. You should keep in mind that a transmission flush can only be used to clean the debris from the transmission, but it would not fix other transmission-related issues, for example, sealing in the gearbox, broken gears, and more. 

As per the experts, flushing the transmission system means your vehicle has developed the signs of a failing or bad transmission. So, you should frequently check your car for any issues. Don’t drive your car with a bad transmission, which can damage the transmission’s other components. 

Final Words

If you have been facing issues with the transmission shifting from first to second gear, don’t take it lightly and contact a professional mechanic as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis. Some repairs can be carried out at home, but it is advisable to seek help from an experienced transmission repair expert if you are not comfortable with the repairs. Always keep an eye on the common transmission issues. Don’t drive with bad transmission as it can damage other parts and increase the chances of facing accidents on the roads. Besides, always check the car’s manual and get your car serviced on time to avoid such issues.

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